Do reviews of 'bad' products really kill off companies? Not according to one famous tech YouTuber and we absolutely agree

Product reviews are the staple far of any tech publication or channel. Visitors expect them to be entertaining but also informative, and the vast majority of folks always don't want things sugar-coated or misleading. They want the truth, no matter how painful it is, but is honesty really damaging to the company that made the product? Popular tech YouTuber Marques Brownlee doesn't believe so, as he explains in a recent commentary, created on the back of the negative feedback he received for one of his latest reviews. 

For all of us at PC Gamer, whenever we review a product, no matter how expensive or unique it is, we always try to be as fair and as honest as possible. Sometimes that means we end up saying some things that put the item in a very negative light, but it will always be explained and, more often than not, backed up with hard evidence. But do such reviews significantly affect the product's vendor? Does giving a string of laptops, for example, a low score result in the business' finances nosediving?

With millions of visitors passing through PC Gamer's pages, are we morally obligated to ensure that we put the best interests of any company ahead of ensuring the reviews are well received by hundreds of thousands of people? Of course not—there's a world of difference between being openly dismissive of a product, purely based on who made it, and giving something a low rating because it's fundamentally poor.

We live in a world where algorithms favour gurning faces, all displaying mock outrage or shock, and I think it's fair to say that a good number of tech reviews tend to err on the side of overdramatisation, especially those which are in a video format. Sometimes that's entirely intentional by the reviewer but occasionally it comes about by a lack of experience.

In the case of Marques Brownlee, he's been reviewing tech for a long time, starting in his teens about 15 years ago. A couple of days ago, he posted a review of the Humane AI wearable computer, a device that made us wrinkle our noses when it launched last November. With the title of 'The Worst Product I've Ever Reviewed' you wouldn't expect the review to be singing any praises but to be fair to Brownlee, his views about the system are balanced and certainly not as hyperbolic as the title.

But then he started to get negative feedback from some people, one of whom even went as far as to claim his responses were unethical and that he had a responsibility to ensure that his work didn't kill off a project. Another claimed that the review would be a 'gravestone for Humane.'

If Brownlee was the only major tech YouTuber out there, with an audience reach many times larger than anything else, and all of the reviews of the Humane AI contradicted his points, then such criticism might have some validity to it. However, clickbait titles don't ruin companies. Negative reviews don't cause stocks to crash. If they did, certain tech companies (especially those that make lots of laptops, monitors, graphics cards, etc) would have been out of business years ago.

A promotional image of the Humane AI wearable computer

(Image credit: Humane)
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Without mentioning any names, we've been giving one particular vendor's products a bit of a battering these last few months. Why? Because the products themselves just weren't good enough, especially when compared to what else is on offer in the market. And it's this last point that's responsible for a company's fortunes—very few tech items are so utterly unique that there's no competition and it's ultimately market forces that determine whether a vendor will succeed or fail.

I have absolutely no issue with folks completely disagreeing with my analysis and review of a product, and I don't mind any feedback (so long as it's not personal). None of the companies I regularly communicate with have ever expressed the opinion that I'm somehow damaging them, though I'm hardly a major tech reviewer. Not that I should imagine they would, even if I were.

The good thing that's come from all of this is that it has highlighted the importance of fair and balanced reviews, for the sake of the consumer and as valuable feedback to the companies making the products being examined. Everyone benefits from such things, even if a minority of highly vocal people believe otherwise.

Nick Evanson
Hardware Writer

Nick, gaming, and computers all first met in 1981, with the love affair starting on a Sinclair ZX81 in kit form and a book on ZX Basic. He ended up becoming a physics and IT teacher, but by the late 1990s decided it was time to cut his teeth writing for a long defunct UK tech site. He went on to do the same at Madonion, helping to write the help files for 3DMark and PCMark. After a short stint working at, Nick joined Futuremark (MadOnion rebranded) full-time, as editor-in-chief for its gaming and hardware section, YouGamers. After the site shutdown, he became an engineering and computing lecturer for many years, but missed the writing bug. Cue four years at and over 100 long articles on anything and everything. He freely admits to being far too obsessed with GPUs and open world grindy RPGs, but who isn't these days?